I have reflected carefully on my remarks to this Caucus today.
When I left Australia a week ago as Foreign Minister, I did not anticipate that I’d be standing before you a week later in this leadership ballot.
It’s been a great honour to serve the nation and the Party as Foreign Minister.
It is a privilege to be elected to this place.
To have served you as Leader, as Prime Minister, and as Foreign Minister.
Together I believe we’ve delivered lasting foreign policy achievements in the best traditions of Labor foreign policy.
* The establishment and consolidation of Australia’s membership of the G20;
* The creation for the first time in the history of Asia, a single regional institution with all the principal players of our region;
* Our leadership on Libya, Syria and Somalia;
* The fact that we are now the 7th largest aid donor in the world.
These are great Labor foreign policy achievements and whoever becomes the next Foreign Minister, should own all these achievements with pride.
We are at our best when we own our Labor legacy.
We are at our worst when we don’t.
The reasons for my resigning as Foreign Minister are now part of the record.
It was a decision I took with a heavy heart.
But given the sustained and uncontested public attacks on my integrity by colleagues, I believe I had no choice and that it was the honourable thing to do. Nick Champion reminded us of that principle back in 2010.
My reasons for contesting the leadership are different.
I decided to recontest the leadership once Julia said that she would declare the position open.
My core reason for doing so is this: for the last 12 months, not the last two months, or two weeks, we have been on track to suffer the worst electoral defeat in our history.
And I refuse to stand idly by while the next generation of Labor leaders is wiped out.
I don’t want to see hard working local members wiped out. People like:
* Mike in Eden Monaro
* Laura in La Trobe
* Darren in Corangamite
* Janelle in Page
* Steve in Hindmarsh
I believe I am the best placed to defeat Abbott at the next election: the people trust me. They don't really trust Abbott.
I have experience – experience in negotiating us through the GFC. Abbott has none. Nor does he have the temperament for high office.
In my one major national policy debate against Abbott, at the National Press Club on health and hospitals reform, Abbot was exposed for the hollow man that he is.
The truth is, unless we turn the tide against Abbott, this caucus will be reduced to a rump, and we will be out for a generation.
And everything we have built up these last 4 years, will be torn down:
* the NBN;
* a Carbon Price;
* Hospital Reform;
* Paid Parental Leave;
* the lot.
Now to the charges against me.
First, it is true that I swear, and now there is documentary evidence to that effect, it is hard to deny.
I doubt, however, that I’m exactly Robinson Crusoe on that score.
Second, leadership style, and the need for greater focus on the core challenges of the government - delegating more, greater reliance on the team, greater consultation.
You'd be a mug not to learn from the events of June 2010, and I have.
I’d recall though Simon Crean’s comments straight after the events of June 2010. Simon said then I was a good Chair of Cabinet. That I listened carefully to each contribution, then summarised.
I’d also note the recent comments of Richard Marles, the Parliamentary Secretary in my own portfolio. Richard is voting for Julia for understandable, long term loyalties. Richard with whom I’ve worked intimately for one and a half years now has stated in recent days he has had a first class working relationship with me. Richard is right.
On leadership style, there is one further thing I’d like to add. Managing the GFC, keeping the economy afloat, preventing mass unemployment, was really hard. It was 24/7.
But we succeeded. Even with a PM who got grumpy some time.
Then there is the third accusation, that I undermined the 2010 election campaign. That is untrue.
Those responsible know the truth. And history will reveal that truth over time. We have had a full report into the events of the 2010 election. It’s been selectively leaked. It’s time for it all to be released. Given the amount of blood on the carpet in recent days, I can see no reason for this report into what really went wrong in the 2010 election not to be released.
Finally, today gives us an opportunity to deal with the events of June 2010. As Albo said on Saturday what was done in 2010 was wrong. That’s the people’s view. That’s the view of the overwhelming majority of our supporters and our branch members. Not just what was done, but how it was done.
The question is how we now put it right.
This has been a difficult, almost violent, ballot.
It shouldn't be like that.
Whatever happens here, we have to heal the show.
But in reality.
Otherwise we are all dead, and the hopes of working people everywhere die with us.
And there must be no retribution against anybody in this room.
If I succeed, or, if I fail, I respectfully ask the Caucus for its support.
And, I will respect the decision of the Caucus.